Partition and Its Aftermath: Violence, Migration and the Role of Refugees in the Socio-Economic Development of Gujranwala and Sialkot Cities, 1947-1961

An academic work, (PhD Thesis). Abstract from the author: The partition of India in August 1947 was marked by the greatest migration in the Twentieth Century and the death of an estimated one million persons. Yet until recently (Ansari 2005; Talbot 2006) little was written about the longer term socioeconomic consequences of this massive dislocation, especially for Pakistan. Even when the ‘human dimension’ of refugee experience rather than the ‘high politics’ of partition was addressed, it was not specifically tied to local case studies (Butalia, 1998). A comparative dimension was also missing, even in the ‘new history’ of partition. The thesis through case studies of the Pakistan Punjab cities of Gujranwala and Sialkot examines partition related episodes of violence, migration and resettlement. It draws on hitherto unexplored original sources to explain the nature, motivation and purpose of violence at the local level. It argues that the violence in both cities was clearly politically rather than culturally and religiously rooted. The problems of finding accommodation and employment as well as patterns of urban resettlement are also explored. The thesis shows how the massive shifts in population influenced and transformed the socio-economic landscape of the two cities. It also addresses wider issues regarding the relative roles of refugees and locally skilled craftsmen in rebuilding the cities’ economies following the migration of the Hindu and Sikh trading and commercial class. This analysis reveals that while partition represented a major disruption, continuities persisted from the colonial era. Indeed, Sialkot’s post-independence development owed more to the skill base it inherited than to the refugee influx.

Ilyas Ahmad Chattha
University of Southampton- School of Humanities:Centre for Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies